The Arabian Gulf region has a long history with the sea and all things fishing so it’s perhaps no surprise that demand for fresh seafood from local, regional, and global producers and suppliers remains high.
While the desire for all things ocean could continue to grow by 8% annually through 2030 according to a new report from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, the variety of flavours and food options, nutritional benefits, and ease of access to high-quality seafood produce, is driving a growing Pescatarian movement, a vegetarian diet containing fish and seafood, according to industry luminaries such as celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
Internationally-renowned chef Kapoor, who has signature restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has witnessed the trend first hand and admits diners across the region are helping to tip the scales on a shift towards ocean-focused food options. The Indian chef’s views will be reflected at SEAFEX, the only professional seafood event for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, which runs at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from October 30- November 1.
“Besides the fact that it is super tasty, a diet that is a mix of veggies, grains, and plenty of seafood, minus any meat, is low in calories and high in nutrients. It exactly fits the trend where people are looking for a variety in flavours and food options, while maintaining the focus on the health and nutrition,” said Kapoor who has endorsed SEAFEX as the place to discover the latest trends shaping the seafood industry.
“Availability is probably another reason, you don’t have to live in a coastal area to enjoy fresh seafood anymore. Good quality produce can easily be made available wherever you are.”
While consumers increasingly seek provenance and freshness from their seafood suppliers, tinned producers, believe they too can net dividends from the rising tide of demand. Canned tuna supplier, Thai Union, will be promoting its products at SEAFEX 2018 claiming even high-end international restaurants are now open to opportunities that ready to use seafood can bring.
The result is a surge in big brand and private label seafood manufacturers making themselves available for drop-in or pre-booked meetings at SEAFEX 2018, according to show organisers DWTC.
“Alongside the pescatarian diet momentum, is the trend towards seacuterie – preserved seafood bites,” said Trixie Lohmirmand, senior vice president, exhibitions & events management, DWTC. Encouraged by mainstream restaurant sensations like fish tacos and ceviche, modern chefs are ‘oceanising’ mixed sharing platters to harvest smaller, alternative seafood varieties that represent less waste and better profit margins.
SEAFEX visitors will get the latest lowdown on what seafood consumers are eating, asking about, and willing to pay for, from nearly 150 exhibitors from 25 countries.